isabel wilkerson and 12 generations

isabel wilkerson’s interview on on being was amazing. it became clear to me that i really need to read her books (so many books to read).

the one thought that has stuck with me is her work exploring the costs and humanized losses of slavery. this one comment from wilkerson is sitting on me heavy still:

“You think about those cotton fields, and those rice plantations, and those tobacco fields, and on all of those cotton fields, and tobacco plantations, and rice plantations were opera singers, and jazz musicians, and poets, and professors, defense attorneys, doctors — I mean, that’s — this is the manifestation of the desire to be free and what was lost to the country. Because for centuries, for 246 years of enslavement — and I have to remind people — 12 generations of enslavement, 12 generations of enslavement. How many “greats” do you add to “grandparent” to get that back to 1619 until 1863? And that gives you a sense of how long all of these people were miscast into an artificial hierarchy as to what they were permitted to do, or risk death if they did not do that.”

12 generations. i can barely conceptualize what 12 generations looks like. (switching to poetry mode - can’t think about this well in prose.)

12 generations

12 generations.
how many people
is 12 generations?

i am me. 
i have a brother. 

i have a father and mother.
jackie. lawrence.

i knew my parents' parents.
doretha. james. ruth. martin. 

i have no kids.
my brother has no kids.
a fraternity brother has a son. 

all i can imagine is four. 
slavery was 12.
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